Contes du Lundi
(1873) was first translated to English in 1900 under the title The Monday Tales
. It's a collection of about 42 short stories by French Naturalist Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897). The stories are mostly autobiographical, many about the historical events of the Franco-Prussian War, Siege of Paris and Paris Commune uprising, which Daudet lived through. The book makes most sense with some prior knowledge or interest in French history, Daudet was writing close to the events and assumes a familiarity. However a few of the best stories can still be read generally by anyone, listed below. Daudet was probably the most famous author in the world between 1877-1882. He has not aged well and is mostly forgotten today, but a few of the stories from this collection still deserve attention, most of them under 10 pages each.
Best of the best (order of preference):
*The Boy Spy
- unusually powerful ending.
*The Pope is Dead
- reminiscent of childhood.
- good "true crime".
*The Siege of Berlin
- effective political satire.
- memorable Zola-like scene of debauchery.
*A Christmas-Eve Revel in the Marais
- a Dickens Christmas ghost story.
*The Concert of Company Eight
- danse macabre
*At the Outposts
- realistic stroll on the front.
Best of the rest (no order):
The Last Lesson, A Game of Billiards, A Renegade Zouave, The Ferry, Alsace! Alsace!, A Turco Of The Commune, The Battle of Pere-Lachaise, The Little Pates, The Last Book, House for Sale!
(STB, 07-09, 38)